Nuggets will stick to plan after rough shooting night

Denver looks to continue paint dominance against Charlotte Bobcats
by Aaron Lopez

The Nuggets went 0-for-22 from 3-point range and the world didn’t end.

Heck, they still almost won the game.

Outscored 42-0 from behind the arc, the numbers would seem to suggest that the Nuggets got blown out by the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden on Thursday night.

Truth is, Denver trailed by three points with 4 minutes left in the game before falling 101-93. The Nuggets held the Blazers to 35.9 percent shooting and finished with an NBA season-high 74 points in the paint.

“Talk about our interior defense,” Nuggets coach George Karl said Friday. “We kept them away from the paint and we dominated them. As much as they embarrassed us on the 3-point line, we somewhat embarrassed them inside the paint.”

Though Denver leads the NBA in paint points (54.7 per game), its perimeter shooting has been inconsistent all season. Through Thursday, the Nuggets were 28th in the NBA in 3-point shooting (32.5 percent), but Karl and his coaching staff are going to continue to stick with their offensive principles.

Create offense with defense. Attack the rim. Get to the free-throw line. Take the open 3.
Many of Denver’s 3-point attempts against Portland were uncontested and came in the flow of the team’s drive-and-kick system.

“Our fourth-quarter looks were wide open,” Karl said. “I don’t think I can tell anybody not to take the shots that they took.”

Karl knows that Denver still needs to cover the 3-point line better. The Nuggets have allowed 234 3-pointers, second only to Charlotte (238 entering play Friday).

The Bobcats will be in Denver on Saturday as the Nuggets try to continue their strong play at home (7-1). Fittingly, it’s Family Night at Pepsi Center, because two former members of the Nuggets’ family will make their return.

Mike Dunlap, who spent two seasons as an assistant under Karl, is in his first year as coach of the Bobcats. Charlotte strength and conditioning coach Matt Friia was Denver’s assistant athletic trainer/assistant strength and conditioning coach from 2004-2011.

The Bobcats (7-18) started strong under Dunlap, matching their win total from last season in just 12 games, but they have lost 14 straight after a defeat at Golden State on Friday night.

“It always makes me nervous,” Karl said “They’re going to be beat somebody. They could’ve and should’ve beaten the Lakers. They played the Knicks in a close game a couple weeks ago. They’re spiraling in a negative way, but they’ll find a way to break it. Hopefully it’s just not against us.”

Despite Charlotte’s recent struggles, Karl believes the Bobcats are on the right track under Dunlap, who won two NCAA Division II titles at Metro State College in 2000 and 2002.

"The mental toughness of Mike Dunlap will keep him on point with what he has to do,” Karl said. “Wins and losses are what we judge people by, but his team’s getting better and playing at a better level.”


WHEN: 7 p.m. MT
WHERE: Pepsi Center, Denver
TV; RADIO: Altitude; 104.3 FM, AM-950


F Danilo Gallinari
F Kenneth Faried
C Kosta Koufos
G Andre Iguodala
G Ty Lawson

F Michael Kidd-Gilcrist
F Byron Mullens
C Bismack Biyombo
G Gerald Henderson
G Kemba Walker

Wilson Chandler (hip) and Julyan Stone (hip) are out.
CHARLOTTE: Tyrus Thomas (calf) is out.

The Nuggets are 6-1 all-time at home against the Bobcats, with their only loss coming on 1/29/07 (101-105) ... The overall series has been close in recent years, with Denver leading the series 7-4 since 2006-07 ... The Nuggets and Bobcats have split the season series (1-1) five times in eight years since Charlotte joined the NBA ... The Bobcats’ biggest win ever against the Nuggets is only 12 points (107-95 at Charlotte on 12/8/09), while the Nuggets’ biggest win over Charlotte was a 40-point home victory the last times the teams faced off at Pepsi Center (120-80 in Denver on 3/2/11).